7 Australian Architects Taking On Projects Under $500k

You don’t need us to tell you that designing and building a home isn’t cheap, especially these days.

Since the pandemic, building costs have skyrocketed, and it seems harder than ever to bring your dream home to life on a limited budget. But that’s where a clever architect can help you reconcile your wishlist, with what you can actually afford.

Whether you’re looking to extend your family home or simply to rework your floorplan, the seven Australian architects below are willing to work on projects with construction budgets of $500,000 or less — tackling renovations big, and small!

Christina Karras

Northcote House by Lisa Breeze Architects. Note: this project was less than $500,000 at the time of construction, but would be over that budget today given rising building and material costs. Photo – Catherine Schusler

Coburg House by Lisa Breeze Architects. Note: this project was less than $500,000 at the time of construction, but would be over that budget today given rising building and material costs. Photo – Caitlin Mills

North Fitzroy House by Lisa Breeze Architects. Photo – Catherine Schusler

Lisa Breeze

Lisa Breeze’s speciality lies in creating homes for families of ‘all shapes and sizes’ — including their pets! If you look closely, many of her projects feature pet-friendly features seamlessly embedded into her considered and chic designs, alongside playful pops of colour.

With ample experience breathing new life into old buildings, the Melbourne-based architect says there’s no set minimum (or maximum) budget for her projects — rather, the most important thing is ensuring that the budget and scope align from the very outset.

Learn more about Lisa Breeze here

Murphy’s Place by Studio Meek. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Murphy’s Place by Studio Meek. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Murphy’s Place by Studio Meek. Photo – Nikole Ramsay

Studio Meek

Geelong-based practice Studio Meek was founded in 2020 by architect George Meek, who seeks to reflect his clients and their unique lifestyle in the homes he designs. He has a creative, collaborative approach and knows how to stretch a limited budget in a renovation, noting that it often just means embracing your home’s existing footprint in new ways.

‘We love creating sustainable, stylish spaces that encompass a playful sense of fun, whilst being functional and practical for everyday living,’ he adds.

Learn more about Studio Meek here

Thornbury House by Gab Olah. Photo – Ben Clement

Gab selected radiata plywood as the main material for its familiar and warm qualities with a strong expressive grain. Photo – Ben Clement

Photo – Ben Clement

Gab Olah

Melbourne architect Gab Olah’s only pre-requisite to a project is that the client has an open mind. ‘Small budgets often require novel solutions that may differ from initial expectations,’ he adds.

This sometimes means using industrial materials, or cost-effective finishes like plywood to bring a vision to life. In addition to taking on full-scale transformations, Gab is also open to smaller projects that can make all the difference — from a recent job designing an outdoor living room with an operable shading device (for just $50,000) to a kitchen renovation.

Learn more about Gab Olah here

Toowoong House by Waring. Photo – KOSK Photography

Toowoong House by Waring. Photo – KOSK Photography


After working for a number of Brisbane’s leading architecture firms over the last 12 years, architect Hannah Waring started her own practice in 2022, catering to projects of any size throughout Queensland. Her designs are often inspired by a home’s natural surroundings, and she says the best part about her job is seeing the completed project once it’s intertwined with the landscape!

‘If you’re in a position where your current construction budget won’t be able to achieve everything on the wishlist, I would stress the value in speaking with an architect about master planning — so you can put a plan in place to add those spaces down the track if, or when, it becomes feasible for you,’ she adds.

Learn more about Waring here

Passive Pod by Studio Dot. Photo – Alex McIntyre. Styling – Monsoon Living.

King House by Studio Dot. Photo – Supplied

Karen’s House by Studio Dot. Photo – Brigid Arnott

Studio Dot

Studio Dot is a small architectural practice based in the Hunter Valley, NSW. Director Steele Olney is also a certified Passive House designer, and brings a sustainable approach to every project — having worked on several projects recently with budgets under $500,000.

‘Minimising demolition, preserving existing elements and scaling down construction all contribute to careful budget control,’ Steele says. ‘I prioritise quality over sheer size and advocate for well-designed, compact spaces.’

Learn more about Studio Dot here

Vasse House by Joshua Duncan Architect. Photo – Leo Showell

With a budget of $260,000, Joshua’s aim was to showcase an alternative to the traditional layout of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house, that was both well-designed and ‘financially accessible’. Photo – Leo Showell

Jindong House by Joshua Duncan Architect. Photo – Supplied

Joshua Duncan Architect

Based in Western Australia, Joshua Duncan Architect works on projects Australia-wide. Having created his own Perth home from scratch for just $260,000 a few years ago, he’s well-versed with budgets between $400,000 – $600,000.

‘I am interested in extraordinary buildings that are delivered with ordinary means,’ Josh says. ‘Aesthetically, this often leads to simple forms, direct details, and the use of economical materials, with key consideration to cost-effective opportunities for intrigue and delight.’

Learn more about Joshua Duncan Architect here

An art deco home renovated by Robinson Architecture. Photo – Nick Doolan

A Northcote house by Robinson Architecture. Photo – Nick Doolan

Photo – Nick Doolan

Robinson Architecture

Being a sole practitioner, Kathy Robinson of Robinson Architecture brings a personal touch to all of her designs. This allows her to work closely with each of her clients, carefully tailoring architectural solutions to match their respective briefs and budgets.

Working on homes within Melbourne, the Surf Coast and regionally, Kathy says sometimes it’s the smaller projects that can be the most satisfying: ‘It is so rewarding to see a little bit of good design go a long way and completely change someone’s home’.

Learn more about Robinson Architecture here

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